It all started when we were given an old, second-hand TV.
It’s truly a novelty to watch the tube if you’ve been deprived of it for years on end, especially when things that are airing here in New Zealand are the same as what they’re watching in the States, in England and in Australia. Talk about feeling connected to what the world is watching! There’s a lot to choose from; the hilarious, dancing Ellen DeGeneres, that sell-out, phoney Dr. Phil and my personal favorite of all the reality shows: Come Dine With Me. So much variety!
Except for Wednesday nights. On Wednesday nights there’s only one thing remotely decent to watch and despite my initial refusal to tune into the program, I eventually got hooked. When I say I ‘got hooked’ I mean that I became emotionally invested in–get ready to cringe–“The Biggest Loser.”
At first I hated that show. I was so against it. I mocked its ruthless producers, feeling sorry for these people who so willingly bare their souls along with their obese and unsightly bodies for the entire nation, not to mention the whole world to see. I can’t help but think that they honestly did not really know their man-boobs and bingo-wings would be broadcast all over the planet. How humiliating. They should be paid more for that. Even supermodels, anorexic as they are, get to hide behind the touches of an airbrush artist.
I couldn’t possibly condone this by actually watching it. But I did. Not only did I watch it, at first laughing and pointing at the corny, tearful moments between contestant and trainer, I later got emotionally attached to these people. I stopped laughing and started to like or dislike them–the contestants and the trainers. I began rooting for some of them to the point where I was literally holding my breath during weigh-ins. Worst of all (and this is the most shameful part of it) I will admit, I did all this while eating ice cream.
It’s true. I slightly hate myself for it.
Slowly, I’ve come to realize why I can’t blame myself for wincing with one eye at this show and watching in horrible, morbid fascination with the other. If you can get past all that Hollywood hullabaloo–such as the overly dramatic host and her hair–then you can see what all this soul and belly-baring is really about: deep, profound, life-saving change. And I can’t argue with that. In fact, I have nothing but awesome respect for it.
Last night’s episode had these people out in the desert, walk/running a frickin’ marathon, bum joints and all. And when they went home to their families, completely and literally reshaped and reformed they watched a video of their old selves talking to their new selves. They all said things like, “I remember her” or “I hardly recognize that guy” or “I never want to see him again.” While they saw the weak and painful person they used to be on the outside, they missed the point. (Or maybe the producers failed to illustrate it.)
The thing is, it wasn’t their old self talking to their new self. It was them! It was just them. There was/is no separation. Their Self, in its old body, was talking to the Self now housed in their new body. It was the Self itself–try that for a tongue-twister–that coordinated and saw through their bodily transformation. Them! They did it. It was the work of their Higher Self. Isn’t that where they say the Divine resides? For all their superhuman, Hollywood-helped weight loss and mental transformation, they haven’t quite grasped one very simple, yet extremely difficult concept: to love themselves in spite of themselves.
All this got me thinking.
Mainly about how little we love ourselves and how we rarely even know how to do that. I know I struggle with it. It also got me thinking about how important it is to measure our growth. When I was a kid, each summer my grandfather would stand my sisters and my cousins and I against the door frame and flatten a ruler on top of the crown of our heads. He’d make a scratch with his pencil and we’d turn around and see our how far we’d come or hadn’t come. We loved seeing how much we’d grown from one summer to the next. Sometimes we were conscious of this growth, it was obvious to us — but other times it was a big, unexpected surprise. It was thrilling and magical. We didn’t have to do anything special, we only had to be kids–eat, run, play–there was no secret to it, no formula. It all just happened naturally. I think that’s why I’m so in awe of these “losers.” They are making extraordinary efforts to reestablish what should be ordinary in their lives. They are losing weight but in that process they are gaining what they’ve lost somewhere along the way. And THAT is the secret.
One guy lost seventy pounds in three weeks. Seventy pounds! In three weeks! In that process, think of all he gained.
Haven’t we all been the biggest loser at some point or another? Haven’t we all been that sobbing mess, that heap of a human being, so mucked up by our own doing we hardly know where to begin? I would even argue that THAT is our problem. We don’t know where to begin and so we don’t. We just put it off and put it off and put it off, until finally, we die.
Call me crazy, but I have been humbly inspired by these otherwise average, formerly obese Americans. They’ve laid it out there, they have shown me by example: I can mope about all that I haven’t done, continue to perpetuate the cycle of excuses or I can set goals and actually do something. As a matter of fact, I can do something every single day until one day, even as early as three weeks from now, I might actually see some results.
Perhaps it is somewhere within all that strenuous process that we will finally come to learn to love and listen to that little divinity that resides within. So why not just go for it? I’ll shoot for the seventy-pound kind of results. And with that, I think I’ll go mark my word on the door frame.